Equine coaching is a relatively new technique. Because many people aren’t familiar, I get a ton of questions about what it is, how it works, and what the results are. That's exactly why I decided to write this three-part series explaining:
What is equine coaching?
How equine coaching works, and today's post -
How equine coaching helps women
Equine coaching helps people in multiple ways.
In the last post, "How equine coaching works", I talked about how horses have an innate ability to meet you where you are without judgement. They encourage us to dive deep into self-reflection and ask ourselves the tough questions. Their essence touches our hearts in a way few others can.
The question is: how does that translate into experiences that change lives?
The following are just a few of examples of how equine coaching has helped my clients and many others:
GREATER SELF AWARENESS: Self awareness is the first step to uncovering our authentic selves. It helps us understand our beliefs, behaviors, needs, desires, feelings, thoughts, and habits. These patterns lay the foundation for how we experience the world. The more we understand ourselves, the better we’ll be able to bring about changes that are aligned with what we want in life. Our bodies, mind, and intuition are constantly giving us information. Learning how to tap into that information allows us to experience new exciting things, and develop new ways of looking at things and solving problems. When working with horses, we naturally become more self aware. Horses don't use verbal communication, so we must pay closer attention to the other aspects of our being in order to develop trust and connection.
HEALTHY BOUNDARIES: Setting healthy boundaries helps us establish how we want to be treated and stops us from constantly accommodating others at our expense. Without boundaries, we lose sight of ourselves - it becomes challenging to differentiate our experience from the experience of others. Setting boundaries allows us to take better care of ourselves - mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Horses are constantly setting and testing boundaries with other horses, as well as with their human counterparts. When faced with a 1500lb horse, one must learn how to set boundaries. Working with horses in a coaching capacity allows us to practice setting firm boundaries around what we will and won't tolerate.
IMPROVED MANAGEMENT OF FEAR & UNCERTAINTY: In my experience, we never completely get rid of fear, we just learn how to manage it better. Fear asks us to stay in our comfort zone. When we stay comfortable, we don’t grow. Horses help us with this. They help us become aware of how we handle uncertainty so that when it arises in our day-to-day life, we can acknowledge it and face it head-on.
ENHANCED SOMATIC AWARENESS: Think of somatic awareness as awareness of our physical experience. Our bodies are constantly giving feedback about what’s going in within us and about how we feel about things that are external to us. By tuning into these messages, we can move through uncomfortable or challenging situations with greater ease and more clarity. Horses are masters of listening to their bodies. They know that their senses help keep them safe and connected with the world around them.
IMPROVED CONFIDENCE & LEADERSHIP SKILLS: I don’t need to tell you why confidence and leadership skills are important. Embodying confidence and leadership can have a tremendous impact on all areas of our life - personally, professionally and in our relationships. Horses look for a confident leader. When we aren't confident, they will step into the leadership role. Working with them gives us an opportunity to try different styles and get feedback on how we approach leadership challenges.
EMOTIONAL CONGRUENCE: This is a big one. Emotional congruence is being aware of emotions when they come up and embracing them as they arise. So often we bury or outright deny the existence of emotions. We say we’ll deal with them later, or we blame others for our internal experience (how many times have you blamed someone for making you mad? I know I've done it!). We create stories around why we should or shouldn’t be feeling a certain way. Horses can't do this - they live in the present and are totally honest about how they're feeling in any given moment. When we're incongruent, horses will will tell us. They tell us through our interactions with them and their body language. They remind us that our emotional state is not only our responsibility, but it’s in our control. We control how we respond to external situations. By remaining congruent, we keep our power.
AUTHENTICITY: Somewhere, deep inside of us, is a desire to express our uniqueness. Being yourself creates meaning in life. To be authentic is to honor who you are at your very core so you can give your best to others. Those who conform to gain acceptance will often experience a feeling like they are never enough. This is because they're not being who they are which absolutely IS enough. When we work with the horses they ask: "Who are you? What do you stand for? Why do you do the things you like to do?" These are powerful questions.
VALUES ALIGNMENT: Getting clear on your personal values gives you a blueprint for your life. It is a lens you can use to examine your relationships, career, and personal life. What’s equally important to knowing your values is aligning your values. Similar to emotional congruence, horses show us where we're not in alignment with our values as well.
TRUST: We’ve all been hurt. Every time we are hurt physically or emotionally, it’s tempting to close ourselves off a little more; to put up one more brick on the wall that keeps us protected. But what happens when you don’t trust is you ultimately end up alienating yourself from the world and from the beauty of life’s experiences. When we interact with horses, they are seeking trust. If we have a wall up, they won't want to connect.
REFINED CLARITY & VISION: I can’t tell you how often I hear women say, “I just don’t know what I want,” or “I just don’t know what to do.” I totally get it - I felt the same way for a long time. It’s especially common for women to put others before their own needs - partners, children, clients, colleagues… this means they rarely take the time to focus and define their own wants and desires. By working with horses, women gain clarity around where they’re going and why.
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